Australia returns 500k doses of Covid-19 vaccine to S'pore under exchange deal

The returned doses are for around 500,000 doses that Singapore sent Down Under on Sept 2, 2021. PHOTO: NYTIMES

SINGAPORE - Singapore received around 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Australia on Thursday (Nov 18), as part of a dose sharing arrangement both countries agreed on in August.

The returned doses are for around 500,000 doses that Singapore sent Down Under on Sept 2.

Then, Australia was reeling from a surge in cases due to the Delta variant of the virus.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said then that the deal would enable the country to accelerate its vaccine roll-out and extend the scheme to youth aged 12 to 15 from mid-September.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook then: "Glad to support their efforts to get Australians vaccinated as soon as possible. Countries must be united in the battle to quell the pandemic, so that we can all move into the new normal. Singapore is ready to do our bit."

About 70 per cent of Australia's population is vaccinated currently.

On Thursday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the returned doses will support the country's "ongoing programme to administer Covid-19 booster vaccinations to eligible segments of our population".

Currently, 21 per cent of Singapore's population has received booster shots and 94 per cent of the eligible population is fully inoculated.

MFA said the dose sharing arrangement is testament to the strong relations between the two countries, underpinned by their comprehensive strategic partnership.

"Throughout the pandemic, both countries have also shared best practices to combat Covid-19, cooperated to keep markets open and ensure supply chain connectivity, and worked together to resume two-way quarantine-free travel."

From Sunday, tourists, workers and students will be allowed to visit New South Wales and Victoria without spending 14 days in hotel quarantine via a vaccinated travel lane.

The ministry added that health and foreign affairs officials from both countries have worked closely to implement the arrangement.

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